October 13, 2015 Alan Parsons Live Project & “The Orchestra” Thrill The Paramount Huntington, NY 9-27-15
The musical journey for England’s Alan Parsons began while he was only eighteen years old as an assistant engineer at Abbey Road Studios. Interestingly, he would earn his first album credit in 1969 when working with the legendary Beatles in recording Abbey Road. Going onto engineer Wings’ 1971 Wild Life, Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1973 Red Rose Speedway, and Pink Floyd’s 1973 classic The Dark Side of the Moon, to name a few, Parsons was a massive success before even reaching thirty. Following his dream with his own music, he teamed up with the late Eric Woolfson to form Alan Parsons Project 1975 to which the two would credit a Progressive Rock masterpiece, 1976’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Showing influence from the variety of artists he directly worked with years prior, Parsons and Woolfson formed a style all their own over the course of ten studio record released between 1976 and 1987.
Now all these years later, Parsons has earned himself a total of eleven Grammy nominations, among other awards, and is still vastly active in music. Spending ample time touring in other corners of the world, Parsons has returned to play North America once more. In recent years, he has partaken in an extensive tour with his Live Project. Consisting of a lineup that features P.J. Olsson on vocals, Alastair Green on lead guitar/vocals, Danny Thompson on drums, Guy Erez on bass, Todd Cooper on saxophone/vocals, as well as Dan Tracey on guitar/vocals, Parsons’ and company brought their show to The Paramount in Huntington, NY Sunday September 27th for an enchanting evening. Joined by new millennium incarnation of Electric Light Orchestra in the form of a band called “The Orchestra,” there was plenty of excitement going around the floor of the theater from the moment spectators walked in the lobby.
Ignited the night of music bliss, “The Orchestra” was ready to go around 8 PM with a full crowd awaiting their start. Formed back in 2000 by former Electric Light Orchestra members and ELO Part II, following the dissolve of the original group. Releasing an album in 2001 entitled No Rewind, and over the past fifteen years they have consistently toured while keeping the spirit of Electric Light Orchestra alive. With a star-studded lineup of Keyboardist/Vocalist/Guitarist Eric Troyer (from ELO Part II), Violinist Mik Kaminski (from the fourth and fifth lineups of ELO and ELO Part II), Guitarist/Vocalist Parthenon Huxley (from the final lineup of ELO Part II), Bassist/Vocalist Glen Burtnik (from one of the 1990s lineups of Styx and the non-Broadway cast of Beatlemania), Keyboardist Louis Clark (ELO string arranger 1974-1986), and Drummer Gordon Townsend, The Orchestra came out to a roar of cheers from the knowledgeable audience.
Opening with 1975 ELO hit “Evil Woman”, Huxley took lead on vocals with magnificent harmonization during the chorus that everyone singing along. Going into 1978 single “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” followed by the mesmerizing 1974 hit “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” The Orchestra was tapping into fans favorite ELO tuned, and wasting no time. With colorful instrumentation provided by all instrumentation the string work of Kaminski throughout the set was not only complimentary to the overall ensemble, but dazzling to watch as he graceful moved about the stage.
Going onto to play “All Over the World,” another hit with “Strange Magic,” “Showdown,” and “Turn to Stone,” the audience was completely enthralled in the set, wondering where the band would go next. Playing to the desires of their fans, The Orchestra kept going deep into the well of ELO’s catalog with “Livin’ Thing,” “Xanadu,” the riff driven “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle.” Expressing their gratitude for the warm reception, Huxley acted as the primary voice of the band, communicating how excited the entire band was to be at The Paramount. Rocking hard they played on with ELO’s first single ever, “10538 Overture,” followed by “Telephone Line” where Troyer shined on lead vocals. Showcasing their array of talents individually, The Orchestra adhered as a collective unit the entire performance and bidding the room farewell, a sea of cheers provoked a jolting encore beginning with “Do Ya.” Having mostly all out of their seat and dancing, the band kept emotions high into closing number “Don’t Bring Me Down” where musician and spectator vocal harmonization during the chorus unified as one. To say the crowd was pleased with the performance would be an understatement. There was immense energy flowing the entire time and The Orchestra were a big hit.
Following a brief intermission along with a stage turn over, Parsons and company approached the platform under bright lights to cheers of their own. Humbled by the opening praise, before even playing a note, Parsons waved to the audience as a sign of appreciation, and quickly thereafter the band went into the 1977 instrumental track “I Robot” as a mood setter. Giving Olsson a chance to take the spotlight quickly, 1979’s “Damned If I Do” filled the air with its rich sound. Bouncing around the discography of The Alan Parsons Project, Parsons himself took lead vocals on “Don’t Answer Me” with tingling backing vocals by Tracey, Olsson, Green, and Erez. This kept the momentum going through the atmospheric styling of “Breakdown,” and the Edgar Allan Poe inspired “The Raven.”
Deep in the labyrinth that is Alan Parsons Project, perhaps one of the most enchanting moments came during the performance of the thought provoking “Time.” Ear tingling musically as well as vocally, the and did a fantastic job of capturing the tone of the legendary track that received more applauds following by attentive silence by the crowd. Picking up the beat a bit, “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” came before the dreamlike “Days Are Numbers (The Traveller)” which saw Tracey completely floor the room with a silky smooth vocal delivery on lead. This was yet another highlight in a show full of them, proving Parsons has surrounded himself with impeccable talent.
Not breaking the flow of the show, Parsons spoke in between songs sparingly, but when he did he expressed a keen sense of humor with introductions where he playfully clearly his throat when talking of the year the music was recorded. While true most of the songs date back close to four decades old now, they are still as potent as ever with a enticing progressive sound years ahead of its time. Playing into “The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part One),” they went seamlessly into “Snake Eyes,” “The Ace of Swords,” “Nothing Left to Lose,” and “The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part Two)” rounding a generous offer from the 1980 studio record. Working in a newer tune, “Do You Live at All” once again gave Olsson a chance to take the spotlight on lead vocals and for Green to let loss on lead guitar. Well-received, the band turned their attention to more key laden “Old and Wise” moments later, both relaxing and stimulating to the souls of the audience.
With the show winding down, there was still plenty left to offer including 1984’s “Prime Time” and the unmistakable instrumental “Sirius.” The latter, a track which regained a new popularity during the 1990s when used at sporting arenas in North America, the adrenaline began to pump through The Paramount as the mix of keyboards and guitar had everyone on their feet. Fittingly, like the 1982 record, they segued into signature tune “Eye in the Sky.” Perhaps one of the greatest songs written in the history of Rock-n-Roll, Parsons took lead vocals and had his fan’s tingling with joy. Seeming like the perfect way to close out the night the band abide The Paramount farewell, but only moments before returning for one last hurrah. Jump-starting the encore with 1976’s “(The System of) Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether,” the went out with the lively 1980 cut “Games People Play” with all up and clapping along.
Alan Parson Live Project was not only flawless, they were a treat Long Islanders have waited to see for sometime now. In fact, many wondered if they would ever see Parsons’ visit the area again. The wait was well worth it and the result was a concert filled with some of the most best Progressive Rock tunes this side of the moon. It would be an understatement to downplay the importance of Parsons to modern music with his endless list of recording credits. With that said, Parsons will be holding master class training at Abbey Road Studios November 16th-17th and November 18th-19th, so those who want to make the trip out to London, this would be an experience of a lifetime.